His earliest systems were galvanized steel in a gravel bed below the concrete pad. Later he put the pipe in the concrete. I don't know if he used galvanized or copper when embedded in the concrete.Matt wrote:His systems were steel imbedded in the concrete....do I have that right?
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The Jacobs and Johnson Wax buildings used iron piping in beds beneath the slabs. Wright used larger diameter pipe for steam, sometimes 2Ã¢â‚¬Â�. Later houses used copper or welded steel pipes. Sometimes beneath the slab, sometimes just touching, sometimes partially engaged. Our pipes are partially engaged in most places but fully encased in the kitchen which has a slab that bridges a small heater basement. What was actually built sometimes was determined by the mechanical contractor who would have to provide the warranty.
In the correspondence for our house, we learned from letters back and forth that Wright tended to favor simplicity in the system design with fewer larger diameter pipes spaced a little further apart. Our house drawings noted pipes to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“copper or steelÃ¢â‚¬Â� 2Ã¢â‚¬Â� in diameter that simply Ã¢â‚¬Å“mowed the lawnÃ¢â‚¬Â� through the house in 2 zones (loops). The letters described the SweetonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contractor lobbying Taliesin to use a 2 zone system as Wright specÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d, but with a supply pipe feeding a series of Ã¢â‚¬Å“panelsÃ¢â‚¬Â� (sections of small diameter pipe that mow the lawn through a single room or portions of the house) that then return in individual pipes to balance valves that the drain to a manifold and back to the boiler. Taliesin agreed to the system in practice, but noted there was concern about excessive cost for a house with a tight budget. Mr Sweeton with his experience in controlling boiler piping in ships believed the increased cost was worth it.
Steel pipe was used at our house. The pipe has had 2 leaks that have been repaired: one pin hole found when we built pier footings for the living room window wall mullions, and another that was a large hole breach in a riser pipe that was not even in contact with concrete, that seeped water into the work shop. In both cases, the pipe was repeatedly wetted from its outside. Surrounding pipe was in like new condition. In other Usonians I have encountered with steel pipe, failures have most often been traced to wetting of the outside of the steel pipe either by ground water, roof drainage seeping in, under slab plumbing pipe leakage, or in the case of the Rubin house, a cracked concrete fountain pool.
Copper is not bullet proof either...the Christie house has had some leaks...all repaired. A Louis Kahn house owned by a neighbor has copper radiant floor heat which has had leaks. Copper pipe is thinner and can have chemical interaction issues with concrete, particularly if admixtures are present.
No system is entirely trouble free. All must be cared for...donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t change the water if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to! Old funky water is most inert. Make sure the pipes donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get wet from outside sources.
The first such drawing in Monograph 6 (1937-41) is a section of Pew, where the conventional wood floor has heating pipes near the bottoms of the joists in the main space. This is the floor that apparently has its flooring boards
spaced with gaps, though the drawing doesn't indicate that. The adjacent deck has its boards running the other way, and they are called out as 1 3/4" x 2 1/4" with 1/2" gaps -- though the accompanying photo shows conventional
deck boards with minimal gaps.
The 1938 unbuilt Usonian for Royal Jurgensen shows 2 1/4" welded pipes centered in a 8" bed of rip-rap, below a 4" concrete mat. (The board and batten vertical wall unit is 11 1/4".)
The 1938 Ardmore "Suntop Houses" are drawn with heating pipes at the top of a 5" rip-rap course and directly beneath a 3 1/2" concrete slab.
Schwartz and Pope (1939) have 1 1/4" heating pipes above center in a 5" bed of broken stone or cinders (Schwartz) or crushed rock (Pope), beneath a 3 1/2" slab.
Lewis has 2 1/2" heating pipes or "coils," suspended in the second-level joist space.
Stevens (Auldbrass) matches Schwartz and Pope. Van Dusen, Hause, Newman, Brauner and Garrison show 2" pipes above center in 6" of gravel, beneath a 3 1/2" slab. Garrison notes 'pipes 1" clear of [below] [concrete]
mat.' Goetsch-Winckler same, with 6" of gravel or rip-rap. Brauner notes pipes 2'-0" on center.
Christie (1940) shows 2" Wr. Iron heating pipes near top of 5" of broken stone. The 3 1/2" mat appears to have become standard. Model House for MoMA matches the Garrison spec, though pipe dia. and slab thicknessare not specified.
Monograph 7: At the Jacobs solar hemicycle (1944), pipes are drawn at the top of an eight-inch bed of crushed rock, just below the slab. M M Smith (1946) repeats the spec at Christie, but the pipes abut the bottom of the
slab. At Mossberg it's 2" pipes near the top of 5 1/2" of crushed rock. At Buehler (1948) it's the same, though the pipes have drifted downward to above center of the bed.
By this point in the volume few section drawings have been reproduced at sufficient scale to read the notes. A Usonian Automatic detail sheet from 1949 shows 2" pipe on 24" centers, at the top of 5 1/2" of broken stone. A
drawing for Montooth (1950) has 2" W.I. pipe at the top of a 5" broken stone bed.
Monograph 8 (1951-59): Reisley shows W.I. heating "coils" (pipe) at the top of the crushed-rock bed, also just beneath the wood floors. Ditto for the slab floors at Glore, though no pipes are shown in the framed floors. Teater
shows no heating in the floor, but for the first time I see a steel "fabric" in the slab: 6" x 6", #10 #10, W.I. mesh.
And that's it. Nowhere did I see indication of heating pipes embedded in the slab. I imagine Mr Wright was leery of seeing them expanding and contracting with temperature changes and cracking the concrete ?
Monographs, a pair of photos in Sergeant, "FLW's Usonian Houses," p 113, shows the pipes laid on top of the fill, perhaps ready for a top layer of fill prior
to the pouring of the mat. The height of the perimeter form boards suggests that the top of the mat would be well above the layer of pipes ?
topped out flush with the perimeter brick course, it appears that the pipes would have abutted the underside of the mat, if not actually penetrating it.
Chadwick notes, here and in the text, that the crushed stone was "laid around the coils to prevent damage while the concrete was being poured." Thus,
the photo does not show the complete fill of crushed stone.
On pages 3 and 4 of this link are photos of the smaller diameter/ more closely spaced pipes at Sweeton when partially exposed in 2017:
http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewto ... d7b09c7b91
The pipes running downward into the subgrade are the supply and return pipes for the "panel" that served the lower level workshop. The pipe failure occurred in the small portion of riser pipe not set in crushed stone, but raw NJ sandy marl soil. The pipe to the left against wall is the workshop's return pipe which does a "homerun" return to the balancing valves in the heater basement. The larger diameter pipe to that pipe's right is the main supply pipe from which individual "panels" of pipe branch off to circulate through a room which are seen as the coil emanating from the cut slab. This system ensures that no area of the house is effectively at the end of the line following the water's long, long path through the house as with Wright's system. The pipes are partially engaged with the slab...in fact, the slab's welded wire fabric was twist tied to the pipes.